Dart Shafts - Everything You Need To Know

Written by: Heather Cister


dart shafts variety

Dart shafts are an essential part of your setup since they have an effect on accuracy, trajectory, and the angle of which your dart impacts the board. The most important aspects to consider when looking for a shaft are price, durability, length options, style/color options, shape and finally weight. In this blog we will break down everything you need to know about dart shafts in order to determine the right shaft to fit your budget, skill level and play style.


There are five things to consider when looking at the difference between dart shafts: material, length, shape, weight and spinning shafts. One piece molded flight and shaft systems are also a newer type of dart shaft that combines the technology of flights into one piece. Learn more about one piece systems and other specialty shaft and flight systems with our full in-depth blog on everything you need to know about dart flights.

Let’s dive into each component of dart shafts below and learn how those differences can affect the price, performance and durability of dart shafts.

1. MATERIAL: What are dart shafts made out of?

Dart shafts are made from a variety of robust materials with features to improve your overall performance. Let’s look at the most common types of materials used for dart shafts and weigh their pros and cons: 

Nylon & Polycarbonate Shafts

The most basic and most affordable shafts on the market are nylon and polycarbonate dart shafts, making them well suited for the beginner player.

Both nylon and polycarbonate dart shafts are plastic based materials so they're extremely lightweight and rarely bend or flex. Because they're cheap to manufacture, they also offer the most variety of colors and lengths of all dart shafts.

Foldable dart flights work with any nylon or polycarbonate dart shafts that has the standard 4 prong holder. If you're more into molded flights, the Robson molded flights and L-style molded flights can be slotted right onto the top of the dart shaft for an easy application and tightly secured fit.

  • Both nylon and polycarbonate dart shafts are incredibly affordable with a wide range of color and length options available. This makes it really easy for beginner players to experiment with different shafts and brands for their darts setup.
  • If you ever break your shaft, you can easily buy replacement dart shafts in bulk for a really low cost. Be prepared for any dart emergency by always having a set of extra plastic shafts in your pocket. 

  • Because of their simple manufacturing and cheaper material, these dart shafts do not offer grip options if you hold the dart into the shaft. Likewise, these shafts only come in opaque (nylon) or translucent (polycarbonate) muted colors.
  • Polycarbonate shafts are weaker and snap easier than nylon, but they hold a flight tighter. Nylon shafts have more flex to them and don't snap as easily, but they don't hold the flight as tightly. Both are lightweight but run the risk of robin hooding and snapping at the thread while in the barrel. 

aluminum dart shafts

If you're looking for an awesome upgrade from your plastic shafts, aluminum dart shafts are your next best friend. Not only are they a cost effective upgrade, they're far more durable than plastic shafts and offer a variety of different lengths to suit throw styles of all player skill levels.

Like nylon and polycarbonate, aluminum dart shafts can also be used with foldable dart flights and Robson molded flights.

  • Compared to plastic dart shafts, aluminum is way less likely to break due to being a more durable metal material. 
  • Plenty of options for length, color and grip are available for aluminum shafts. Colors are more vibrant compared to dull plastic shafts and offer a metallic sheen.

  • Because aluminum shafts are made of metal, they're bendable and it's hard to bend them back into their original shape.
  • Thicker flights are more difficult to put onto aluminum dart shafts, especially 150 and 180 micron flights. If you love a thick dart flight, these dart shafts may not be the best fit for you.

Carbon Fiber Dart Shafts

A stronger alternative to both aluminum and plastic is carbon fiber dart shafts. Every carbon fiber shaft is composed of strong filaments of carbon, making it a more sturdy shaft option. Because carbon fiber is more expensive to manufacture, these dart shafts also tend to be one of the most expensive options on the market.

Carbon composite is another carbon material alternative if you're looking to try your hand at carbon's sturdiness. This shaft material is a much cheaper carbon dart shaft option as it is not 100% pure carbon fiber. Instead, it's a mix of carbon and resin or epoxy.

  • Carbon fiber dart shafts are quite durable without sacrificing the lightweight properties of other dart shafts like nylon and aluminum.
  • Because they're stronger than other dart shafts, carbon fiber shafts will last you a long time and reduce the need for replacement shafts. You can buy one set and go months without having to buy another.
  • The carbon material is harder than nylon, so robin hooding and bounce outs are less common.

  • The price of carbon fiber dart shafts is more expensive, ranging around $30, and have a limited selection of length, color and brand options. Most carbon shafts are only available in matte black due to the carbon makeup.
  • The small increase in strength from nylon/polycarbonate and aluminum shafts does not justify the drastic jump in cost. 
  • Although they're one of the strongest dart shafts, carbon fiber shafts are not indestructible. They can still break at the thread.

Titanium Dart Shafts

Finally, we have the mighty titanium dart shafts as a material option. Another metal makeup significantly stronger than aluminum and often considered the strongest dart shaft material on the market. Titanium dart shafts are the top choice of A-Z Darts employees since we find the durability unbeatable.

Duralumin dart shafts are a cheaper metal material option that rivals titanium in durability. As a metal combination of carbon fiber and copper, duralumin shafts are stronger than carbon fiber, aluminum and nylon but in turn are also more expensive. However, they're still a great alternative if you want something as strong as titanium without breaking the bank.

  • Titanium is harder and denser than aluminum so it's less likely to bend or break as you use them.
  • Metal material dart shafts like titanium completely prevent robin hooding and can withstand more damage from incoming darts.
  • All titanium dart shafts can last for more than a year without any significant damage, making them an excellent choice for pro players who play a lot of darts.

  • While other dart shaft options are affordable, titanium dart shafts average around $100 for only one set. 
  • They are also only recommended to serious/experienced players because it's best to know the exact length and type of shaft that you prefer before investing so much.
  • Because titanium dart shafts are denser, they are also heavier, meaning that they'll add around 2g of weight to your darts.

2. Length: Does Length Matter?

Believe it or not, length does matter when it comes to dart shafts. Depending on your dart setup, the length of your shaft can affect your throw and even the balance of your dart. Any of the four material types will have different length options available, including the following below:

Short Dart Shafts

Short dart shafts tend to move the center of gravity of the dart toward the front of the barrel. If you're a front gripper, shorter shafts might be ideal for you. Holding a dart fashioned with a short shaft in the front ensures that the dart is more balanced in your hand than if you were to hold it in the middle or rear. 

Short shafts also provide more lift and stability when you throw your dart since there's less material dragging in the air or weighing the dart down.

Typically, short shaft lengths are around 34mm to 37mm, but some brands do make even shorter dart shafts in extra short and even micro for those that like it super tiny.

inbetween dart shafts

Inbetween dart shafts give great balance to the flight of the dart and generally ensure that it hits the board at an optimum angle. A complimentary balance between control and stability is what makes the inbetween shaft, also called intermediate, so popular among players of all levels.

A step above short shaft lengths, inbetween dart shafts are usually around 39mm to 41mm. 

Medium dart shafts

Lastly, Medium shafts are the most forgiving length. Slightly longer than the inbetween length, these are ideal for a player who wants assistance towards achieving maximum stability of their darts. Medium shafts are also a popular length choice for new players as they work well to balance most barrel types and throw styles.

Longer shafts are best suited for bigger hands and flatter throws where the angle of the dart lays almost at eye level in the board. 

Slightly longer than inbetween shafts, medium shafts average around 42mm to 49mm in length. Any longer, around 50mm to 65mm, is considered a long dart shaft.

3. Shape: does shape matter?

The shape of your dart flights can affect the weight of the shaft and offer GRIP! Like with dart barrels, there's tons of variety in shaft shapes for the ultimate customization of your darts. Here are some of the most common shaft shapes:

standard straight dart shafts

The most basic shape of all dart shafts is the standard straight shaft shape. This shape is most popular for being easy to use and having smooth efficiency so it doesn't affect your flight pattern. Great for all players but best for newbies who are still experimenting with their signature style. 

There are also some variations to the standard shaft shape. If you're looking for more grip in the shaft, try a dimpled shape. Like dimpled dart flights, dimpled dart shafts have rounded divets to provide more texture and grip. 

Some standard dart shafts also have extra features that provide more aesthetic or grip to the shaft, like the Harrows Carbon ST. They feature plastic gems that protrude from the sides of the shaft. Other shafts have small carvings and cuts along the side.

Slim dart shafts

Slim dart shafts are a thinner variation of standard dart shafts and come in all of the regular lengths.

If you grip your dart into the shaft, slim dart shafts might be an ideal shape for you to try. The shape allows for more flexibility and when it hits the ground, the shaft has more spring and bounce to protect it from breaking compared to thicker, standard shafts. 

Hybrid dart shafts

Some slim shafts start off thicker at the ends and then taper into a slimmer shape toward the middle. These types of slim shafts are called hybrid dart shafts, combining the flexibility of slim shafts with the classic feel of straight shafts.

The scallop-like tapered middle section of hybrid dart shafts creates a nice place for your fingers to rest if you grip into the shaft. 

Fit flight hybrid dart shaft

molded flight and shaft systems

One piece molded flight and shaft systems combine dart flights and dart shafts into one convenient accessory. Many one piece systems have grooves carved into the shaft part of the stem which provide a completely new and unique grip feel. If you grip the rear of the barrel and into the shaft, you may find the grooves awkward to hold. Your fingertips won't perfectly rest into the grooves.

The main purpose of these carved channels is to prevent bounceouts and robin hooding by allowing the incoming dart to slide through the grooves instead of getting caught on the shaft. 

For the Target K-Flex, the grooves in the shaft also help the system twist around incoming darts. 

Want to learn more about the Target K-Flex System? 

Get a much better understanding of the pros and cons of a one-piece system featuring this specific brand's technology.

Watch an instructive video and read our in-depth product review here: Target K Flex Review

Or simply click the button below:

4. Weight: How can i make my dart shafts heavier?

Adding extra weight to your dart shafts can help it feel more balanced and easier to throw. There are two main accessories that you can add to your dart shafts to alter the weight of your dart:

Add A Grams

The most popular accessory to add weight to your dart shafts is the Add A Gram. Add A Grams also shift the center of gravity toward the rear of the dart due to the weight added. 

Available in multiple weight options over 1g, you can screw an Add A Gram in between the rear of your dart barrel and your dart shaft for a heavier feel.

gold Add a Gram

Back Balance Pro Rings

For a lighter addition to the weight of your darts, the Back Balance Pro Rings from L-Style add 0.4g of tungsten to the rear of your darts. If you experience a wobbly throw or you're a steel tip player whose darts land in the board angled too high up, these little rings are the perfect solution for you.

The only drawback to the Back Balance Pro Rings is that they only work with the L-style Pro dart flights, which can only be used with nylon and polycarbonate dart shafts. Meanwhile, Add A Grams can be used with any type of dart shaft with 2ba or 1/4" threading.

L Style back balance pro ring purple

5. Spinning Shafts: Why Do They Spin?

Spinning dart shafts are a special type of shaft designed to rotate in place if your flight gets hit by another incoming dart. Not only does this help prevent bounce outs, but it can also prolong the integrity of your dart flights.

Like other dart shafts, spinning shafts can be made from any material but are most commonly polycarbonate, aluminum or carbon fiber. This also means you can get spinning dart shafts in a variety of fun colors!

The shape and length of spinning dart shafts also vary like regular shafts. There are standard straight, slim and even hybrid spinning shafts. All length options are available with these shafts as well. The possibilities are truly endless for your dart shafts!

L Style Spinning shaft medium

8 Flight System

8 Flight offers a unique spinning dart shaft system that uses proprietary molded dart flights. The dart flights, made of medium-soft plastic, screw directly onto the back of the 8 Flight dart shafts for a tight fit that won't easily pop off. 

These shafts also come in a non-spinning "locked" option if you prefer to keep it classic.

8 Flight spinning shaft black

Still curious about the 8 Flight system? Watch our in-depth review on the 8 Flight and Shaft system as Jen goes over the innovative solutions this system offers dart players.

You can also read more about the 8 Flight system over on our Dart Flights blog, where we go into detail about other proprietary dart flight and shaft systems. 


There are plenty of accessories for dart shafts ranging from part replacements and little add-ons that help optimize your dart setup. Dart shafts can be used on their own, but try out these neat accessories for an upgraded experience:

Dart Shaft Rings

Prevent your dart flights from popping out of your dart shafts with the help of dart shaft rings. Not to be confused with dart o rings! Dart shaft rings slot right onto the prongs of the shaft and squeeze them together to ensure a tighter hold on your dart flights. This also protects your dart flights from getting split or torn by an incoming dart.

Like dart shafts, dart shaft rings are also available in different materials. Titanium and aluminum are the most common, but L-Style also makes plastic versions with a variety of colors to choose from. 

Dart stem crowns work just like dart shaft rings and feature a special crown shape that allows you to fit a flight all the way into the shaft prongs. Regular dart shaft rings create a gap between the flight and the base of the shaft prongs, so stem crowns are a great alternative to consider if you want the flights to fully fit. 

titanium dart rings

hole punched Dart flights

Another foolproof way of keeping your dart flights secured onto your dart shafts is by punching a hole into the flight. A dart ring is then placed into the hole which slides right over the shaft as you insert the flight. Similar to normally applying a dart ring, this method creates a tight hold on both the dart shaft and the dart flight. 

This also keeps the dart flight wings in the perfect 90 degree angle to optimize your flight pattern. Not all dart shafts can be fitted with punched flights, like shafts with metal flight holders, so make sure your favorite shafts can support punched flights before trying this out.

You'll need a special tool that punches the perfect rectangle shape for the rings to fit snugly. See the hole punch tool purchase option below:

dart flights with hole punch and rings

L Style Shaft Accessories

In addition to the L Style L Rings, there are dart shaft accessories from L Style that slot right onto the rear of dart shafts. An alternative to traditional dart rings, these L Style accessories help secure the flights onto the dart shafts like dart shaft rings. L Style dart shafts aren't necessary to pair with these rings, but it is highly recommended.

Pro Rings

L Style Pro Rings, also called Champagne Rings, are little caps that fit right over the rear of your dart shafts. They are designed to protect your flight and shaft from robin hooding and secure the flight tightly onto the shaft. 

Pro Rings come in a Premium Metal version and a standard plastic material. Like dart shafts, the different material affects the durability of the Pro Rings where metal will last longer and provide the best shaft protection. 

Keep in mind that you can only use Pro Rings with Pro Flights, L Style's proprietary molded flight system, and nylon or polycarbonate dart shafts. Read more about Pro Flights on our Dart Flights blog

To apply the Pro Rings to your Pro Flight, push it gently into the hole — no need to bend or flatten the molded flight out of shape as you may damage the flight beyond repair.

black L Style Pro Ring

Shell Lock Rings

Another variation of the Pro Rings is the L Style Shell Lock Rings. These are also applied to the back of your dart shafts and imitate the four prongs of a standard dart shaft. 

Unlike the Pro Rings, the Shell Lock Rings can only be used with foldable flights — molded flights will not fit these caps. Foldable flights must also be hole punched with the special L Style Lock Flight Punch tool, creating a slot for the Shell Lock Rings to slide right into like regular dart rings. 

Your dart shafts must also be nylon or polycarbonate as other dart shaft materials will not work with these rings.

blue L Style Shell Lock Rings

Dart o rings

Dart o rings help dart shafts stay secure in the dart barrel without overtightening the shaft. This also helps prevent the shaft from breaking and snapping at the thread which would leave the shaft stuck in your barrel. 

For metal dart shafts, o rings are necessary to keep your metal shafts tightly secured in the dart barrel. Without the o rings, the shaft threading won't fit as snugly in the barrel threading.

For more information on dart o rings, how to install them on your dart shafts and other uses, read our in-depth blog on everything you need to know about dart o rings:

Dart o rings

Replacement Dart Shaft Tops

Specialized dart shafts with multiple parts have replacement dart shaft tops that can be purchased separately as needed. Spinning shafts, titanium shafts, and hybrid dart shafts (made with two different materials on each half of the shaft) typically have two parts that can screw into each other to create the whole shaft. 

Before buying a replaceable top, make sure the replacement matches the exact dart shafts that you own. These parts are not interchangeable nor do they mix and match! 

Target Carbon Ti shaft top replacement

Shaft Extractor Tools

Have you ever gotten your dart shafts stuck in your barrel after breaking them? Shaft extractor tools are a quick solution to removing broken dart shafts from your barrel. These tools are much safer and more comfortable to use when removing the broken threading, especially compared to other unconventional methods.

If you frequently travel to play darts, many shaft extractor tools are easy to carry on your keychain. Be prepared for a broken dart shaft on the go, anywhere you decide to play. 

Fit Flight shaft extractor tool

Got a broken dart shaft stuck in your barrel and need a guide on how to remove it? Check out our blog with darts tips on how to remove a broken dart shaft from your barrel using shaft extractor tools and other methods.

We also included plenty of videos in this blog so you have visuals to follow along with!

broken dart shaft in barrel


What are the best dart shafts?

The thing to notice is that there’s no one-size-fits-all best dart shaft. There are so many options for material, length, color, style, etc. The best dart shafts are going to depend on your own individual wants and needs.

My shafts break too easily. Is there anything I can do?

If you're screwing your shafts too tight into the barrel, consider using dart o rings instead for a snug fit. Doing this will relieve tension in the dart shaft that would otherwise cause the shaft to snap at the thread.

Alternatively, you can upgrade to a dart shaft material with higher durability to prevent breakage. The convenience of not swapping them out often and having a reliable product during competition is definitely worth the extra cost of upgrading your dart shafts. 

How do I stop my shafts from coming loose or unscrewed?

As previously mentioned, using dart o rings is a great solution to loose dart shafts! 

How do I remove a broken shaft stuck inside the barrel?

Watch our how-to video for removing broken dart shafts stuck inside your dart barrel here:

How to Remove a Broken Darts Shaft/Stem Stuck in Your Barrel | Extractor Tool

We also have a blog version that includes more methods on removing a broken dart shaft:

How To Remove A Broken Dart Shaft Stuck In Your Dart Barrel

Does spinning shafts help with accuracy? (Like the rifling of a barrel.)

Spinning does not help with your throw or trajectory, only the dart/flight deflection of the second and third dart coming in to land a score. With this in mind, do you use a spinning shaft? This depends on how tight your groupings are and if you are experiencing a lot of dart deflection from your flights. If you have tight groupings and darts deflecting into a different pie after striking a flight, then the answer is yes, you would most likely benefit from spinning shafts.

What shafts are the most durable/last the longest?

Generally, dart shafts are graded based on durability. The more durable or long-lasting a shaft is, the higher quality it is perceived to be. Using that definition, the best dart shafts would be titanium. Carbon is an excellent second-rate option for a much lower price. Keep in mind that nothing is indestructible — all shafts can break someday with the wear and tear of regular gameplay. Even carbon and titanium. It's just a matter of which material will give you the longest lifespan for the cost.

If you're ready to upgrade your dart shafts from plastic, read our newest article on upgrading your dart shafts to the best material for your needs: Upgrading Your Dart Shafts - Dart Shaft Types & Materials

What dart shafts do pros use?

Traditionally pro players across the globe used nylon or polycarbonate shafts (especially in England), typically intermediate or medium length. However, we've seen a huge shift towards molded flight and shaft systems over the past 10 years.

Two piece molded flight and shaft systems are most common in the U.S. and Asia. One piece flight and shaft systems are also very popular in the U.S. and Asia, but not growing in popularity in the UK since Target, Winmau and Shot have all suddenly come out with a new one-piece system.

The moral of the story is everyone's signature setup is different and there are quite a lot of options to experiment with. Remember, the best dart shaft is the shaft that works best for you!

What are the best dart shafts for casual players?

The most practical dart shafts for casual players are nylon, aluminum and carbon fiber shafts. It would be overkill to purchase an expensive titanium shaft if you're not going to use it often or don't know what your optimal length and shape are just yet.

Carbon fiber is the most durable of the three but also the most expensive. Aluminum is the middle ground between nylon and carbon fiber — more durable than nylon but still not as expensive as carbon fiber. Nylon shafts, on the other hand, are the least durable but they’re also the cheapest.

Therefore, we suggest that complete beginners that are serious about practicing start off with Aluminum shafts that won't break as easily as Nylon shafts during bounce outs (which are common for everyone, but especially common for beginners). 

As you become more accurate and hit an intermediate skill level, we recommend buying Nylon shafts to test different lengths and shapes to see how they affect your flight pattern and how the dart impacts the board (pitch).

Finally, as you reach a skill plateuau and become very certain of your optimal set up - now is the time to upgrade to carbon fiber, titanium etc which will more than likely last you years if you're only playing casually.

Are heavier or lighter dart shafts better?

Again, it really depends on your personal preference and your dart setup. If you already throw pretty heavy darts, you might not want a heavier dart shaft like titanium. Likewise, if you prefer throwing light then a heavier dart shaft might throw off your game. Barrel shape also matters — a front-weighted dart will feel more balanced with a heavier shaft at the rear.


Choosing the right shaft can be a daunting task. We hope this article will help you with your journey to determining the right dart shaft for you! It greatly involves personal preference so always keep in mind your personal budget, skill level and frequency of play.

Ultimately, we highly recommend experimenting with dart shafts. Try out different lengths and materials until you’re satisfied with your overall throwing experience and performance. Keep in mind no shaft will last forever. Shafts and other darts accessories are often expendable items. It won’t be the end of the world if one breaks - they all do eventually! When they do break, don’t forget there are ways to deal with broken shafts

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